Cork lad Cillian Murphy gets up close and personal with Irish Tatler
You know you're with a celebrity devoid of ego when the first thing they do on meeting you is leap up and offer you a drink. And so it was when Irish Tatler met Cillian Murphy, who was in town to attend the premiere of his latest film, the homegrown Perrier's Bounty. The film is a gritty, urban, black comedy set in Dublin, and follows the ill-fated Michael McCrea (Murphy) as he struggles to repay a debt to notorious criminal Perrier (played by Brendan Gleeson), before his time runs out and the boss' lackeys come after him. Throw in a healthy dose of girl-next-door (who accidentally kills said lackey) and dysfunctional family relationship (Michael's cocaine-taking father, playing brilliantly by Jim Broadbent), and you'll have some idea of what Perrier's Bounty is all about. "I think he's a decent fella who's just probably very lazy and a bit of a procrastinator," says Cillian as we settle in to discuss his latest character, "a bit shit with money, and has fallen into a bit of a slump." "We meet him at a really bad point, and things get increasingly worse. I identified with it," he says, without implying he's ever had such a thing as a bad debt with a crime lord, "I recognized in him that 'ah sure, things will be fine, things will be grand," and it's building up and building up and then boom — eventually you have to do something." The film is a heady mix of thick, Dublin vernacular, and the lofty prose associated with writer Mark O'Rowe, who also brought us Intermission. "It's that lovely blend of profanity and poetry!" Cillian laughs. "He makes these ne'er do wells and dodgy characters very articulate about their emotions and feelings, and that's a lovely contradiction." Joining Cillian on screen are Brendan Gleeson, Academy Award-winner Jim Broadbent and British actress Jodie Whittaker, while Gabriel Byrne provides the narration as the voice of The Reaper. Talking of on-screen dad Broadbent, Cillian is full of praise. "He's a beautiful man, I've been a big fan of his as an actor for many years, and he's particularly funny!" He says, adding, "he's got this really reserved, dry sense of humour." It's true that Broadbent's comic timing lifts this entire film, while Cillian's take on the somewhat hapless, but likeable lead is yet another inspired dissection of a character, so different to many of the others the young actor has played throughout his career. From the psychopathic villain The Scarecrow in Batman Begins (and subsequently The Dark Knight) to a reluctant soldier in the Irish Republican Army in The Wind That Shakes the Barley, to cross-dressing Patrick 'Kitten' Braden in Breakfast on Pluto, Murphy's roles have been as diverse as they have been forthcoming. "That's part of the beauty of being an actor — you can go anywhere if you've got the opportunity, and you've got a brave enough director, and you're brave enough to do it," says Cillian, brushing aside the notion that his skills as an actor are what has allowed him to avoid being typecast. "You're kind of dressing up and pretending," he adds, "It would get quite boring if you were just dressing up and pretending to be the same person all of the time." Cillian, who has already embraced full frontal nudity in 28 Days Later, and dressed as a woman for the duration of Breakfast on Pluto, insists he is pretty much up for anything when it comes to telling a good tale. "It's all about whether or not it serves the story," he tells. "If it's gratuitous or not. You get a nose for that pretty quickly, if someone's trying to take advantage. If it serves the story, and is true to the character and is true to the narrative, then sure, bring it on!" For someone who exudes such enormous intensity and presence on screen, he is quite unassuming in person. Dressed casually in a striped cardigan and jeans, he could pass for a man at least ten years younger than his 33 years, and yet it's easy to understand how this dad of two earned a heart throb status. What's even more endearing is that he's blissfully unaware of it, and seems positively embarrassed at the suggestion. "I'm... I don't know... It's nice when people say nice things," he says, finally avoiding the point altogether by adding, "If a film affects them in some way, or if the performance affects them, it's the nicest thing that someone can say to you really about what you do." Back in Dublin for just a few days, Cillian plans on making the most of his time to see his family and friends. "It's great to come back," he says, speaking both of his time filming Perrier's Bounty here and arriving home for its premiere. "It [the premiere] will be great, because it will be a chance to see all my pals in the one room, for the one occasion. Normally it's quite disparate, you're trying to see everyone, so? I love coming back, and sure I love an aul party," he grins. Traveling from London, where he has been living for the past ten years, Cillian seems happily settled with wife Yvonne McGuinness and their two children Malachy and Carrick. His private life is kept just that, and he is insistent that he has no desire to move his family to LA to capitalize on the big budget movie industry. "I'd never relocate over there," he explains. "Two reasons — I feel like I'm a European, I have European sensibilities, and it would just feel strange to be living in America, and second of all because I want to be reasonably close to my family and my friends, and that would be too far." Similarly, he is not a keen mover and shaker on the social scene, which he believes is what helps him maintain a relatively ordinary life for such a high profile actor. "I've been lucky... I don't really enjoy events. I just find it a bit unusual, or not real, and I'm not very good in a room full of people I don't think. So therefore I just don't do it. So that means I'm not in the papers and magazines. "You have to be authentic to yourself, and if I tired to squish myself into that person, it would be weird." Cillian continues to buck trends set by many other a-listers; he doesn't have a favourite performance of his own, instead meriting the machine that makes acting a lucrative and viable employment option, saying, "You can see where different films had a different affect on perception, or if a film made a lot of money, then people will view you in a different way, and that's the business, that's fine." He also admits that he finds doing promo tours such as the one he's on for Perrier's Bounty somewhat tedious: "I made this film a year and a half ago, and much as I am thrilled with it and want to promote it and get people to see it, I left that behind a long time ago. It's a little odd [sitting here, no and talking about it]." And instead of dropping names like hot potatoes, he prefers to keep those he considers his idols to himself. "I do have idols, but I'm loathe to name them, because it just gets embarrassing! You end up meeting them, and it's like [he puts on a mock falsetto, lisping voice]: 'I have your picture on my wall for so long! You look so old?!'" It could be because he didn't take the traditional route into acting that Cillian seems so unaffected by his trade. "I grew up thinking I wanted to be in a band," he says, telling us that he still plays guitar in his spare time and continues to write his own music, but thinks it's 'too late' to embark on a music career. "I wouldn't do it in any way seriously. I might play a gig, and have done, and played at friend's wedding," he says. "Maybe in 30 years, but not next year." What he will indulge, however, is his passion for treading the boards. Cillian starred in a number of plays under the direction of Tony-award winning Garry Hynes, and made his West-end debut in John Kolvenbach's Love Song in 2006. "I've a big grá for some theater, I'm quite keen to get back on stage, hopefully that will happen in the next year or so," he says keenly. "It's that beautiful thing of doing it every day, and twice a day sometimes. The best you are as an actor, I think, is when you come off a play and go straight into a film because you've been warming up for months on end. If you just come back from six months of sitting around at home and you walk onto a film set, it's a bit disconcerting!" Far from a traditional method actor, Cillian's roles have still been so encompassing, he's certain that his wife has seen bits of his character at home on occasion. "I think that naturally, by osmosis, there's a residue of that character on you when you come home from work. You're so involved with something that you're doing for 17 hours, every day for six days a week, it must naturally have an impact. But I don't walk around speaking like a Bolivian or something," he jokes. And the things that he does learn from the parts he has played rarely stay with him, he admits. "You get to be quite good at certain skills, and then you forget them! Immediately! The last job I did, I had to learn how to ski. I never skied before, so I was able to ski straight, and stop. But now I've forgotten. And I learnt how to scuba dive on that job, and on another job I had to hang around with physicists all the time, and go out to watch that thing in Geneva where they're smashing the protons together, and I got a big tour of that, and was hanging around with those guys for a few weeks, and that was brilliant but now... it's gone, yeah, it's erased!" Hardly a dull moment, or at least so it seems. And with another film coming out in July, this time a big Hollywood blockbuster, Cillian will be hard pursed to find time to be bored. Inception is described as a 'contemporary sci-fi thriller' and also stars Leonardo di Caprio, Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page. "It will be a big old splash," Cillian informs. "It's pure Hollywood, but with a brilliant director, and a brilliant cast so I think it will be a very unusual and interesting film." If past 'unusual and interesting' performances are anything to go by, we're expecting something special.